How to green meetings & events

Meetings and events are great ways to network, learn and share ideas, but they can also have negative environmental implications (for example impacts associated with unsustainable natural resource use, greenhouse gas emissions from travel and waste generation). Green meetings and events aim to lower the environmental and social impacts whilst also achieving cost savings and leaving a positive environmental legacy.
Reasons to green events & meetings

Green events & meetingsGreening your event can reduce the direct environmental impact of your event, can influence participants and service providers through your communication of green event principles to also adopt more sustainable behaviour and policies, and can help save you costs. Listed below are some specific benefits:

  • Save costs: Energy saving, waste reduction, use of local goods and suppliers can have cost saving implications
  • Environmental benefits: Minimize the negative environmental impacts through careful planning
  • Enhance your reputation: Showing your commitment to sustainability can enhance how people perceive your organisation and can raise the profile of the meeting
  • Innovation: Technologies & techniques to reduce environmental impacts can be promoted through green events
  • Raise awareness: Green events provide an opportunity to communicate and raise awareness of environmental issues and how your event reduced the environmental impacts with a wide audience – from suppliers and service providers, staff, partners and the local community
  • Social benefits: Green events can create jobs, benefit local and environmentally-friendly suppliers and service providers and can promote best practice in a region
How to green events & meetings

There are many event greening guides which can assists event and meeting organisers from the planning phase and which provides check-lists of actions for green meetings (see a list below). Read the UNEP Green Meeting Guide and other green events handbooks or toolkits (look for one for your city or country). Also look through the list of green event organisers, service providers and suppliers on our directory who may be able to help you with making your event a green one.

Below are a few ideas for how to green an event:

  • Serve locally sourced organic and vegetarian/vegan food.
  • Reduce the amount of waste produced by sending handouts electronically and avoiding ‘goodie bags’.
  • Encourage participants during announcements to reduce consumption and re-use resources at the event.
  • Offer carbon offsets associated with travel emissions. Support local carbon offset projects if they exist.
  • Use decor that can be re-used such as indigenous trees that can be planted or donated (e.g. to local schools).
  • Support venues that are sustainably constructed and have green facilities like solar power.
  • Choose a venue that is easily accessible by public transport.
  • Encourage green accommodation options.

Sources
UNEP. Green Meeting Guide (2009) 
City of Cape Town: Smart Events Handbook

Useful resources
Sustainable Event Alliance  
Sustainable Event Management: A Practical Guide  
Live Earth Green Event Guidelines
A Greener Festival 

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3 Responses to “How to green meetings & events”

  1. Golf Holidays July 11, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    That was so informative and eye opening for me

  2. magnet July 24, 2012 at 3:26 am #

    I got what you mean , regards for putting up.

    • Tomjit August 15, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

      Green technology tends to save more money in the long run, detpise being more expensive to begin with for example, motion-sensing light fixtures that only turn on when someone walks into a room are more expensive than regular lights, but after a few years the reduced power usage saves money. What examples of green energy are you looking at that are so cost-inefficient? Around here (Midwest) people have been installing windmills, which are quite green that have consistently proven profitable.

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